The Skyrim Mod Forge – Episode 11 - Companions, Pretty Faces and More from The Witcher 2

The Skyrim Mod Forge is back, bringing you some of the best mods produced by the modding community dedicated to improving The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The purpose of this column is to help those that may be a little disoriented with the size and scope of what the Skyrim modding community offers. You’ll find here on DualShockers every Thursday.

At long last Bethesda released the Creation Kit, unlocking the full modding potential of the game. Of course it will take weeks or even months for it to be truly explored, but we’re already seeing some quite interesting projects, while past mods are being updated to the new standards.

Despite the implementation of Steam Workshop, for now I’d definitely advise to stick with Skyrim Nexus for several reasons: the main one being that Steam Workshop doesn’t have a search feature, which basically cripples the service almost completely for anything else than very casual usage. It also seems to lack any real moderation, which leads to a high percentage of low quality/not working content, that on Skyrim Nexus is more easily identified and squashed. The vast majority of the best modders also seems to still (and understandably) prefer to upload their work on the Nexus.

Ultimately the Skyrim Nexus service is simply leaps and bounds better than its “official” counterpart, and has a dedicated team behind it, making sure that things are kept user friendly. I will still try to include Steam Workshop links to mods when possible, but until they implement a search function (and honestly I can’t fathom a single reason why they thought it was a good idea to launch the service without it), it won’t always be possible.

As a passing note, those of you that downloaded the official HD Texture Package from Steam may have noticed that it simply breaks most of the texture mods you used so far. That’s because it comes with its own .esp files, and every mod that has .esp files (as opposed to those that simply replace textures by putting the new ones in the /data/textures/ folder) will override any mod that doesn’t.

Luckily Ithot from Skyrim Nexus found a workaround: uncheck HighResTexturePack01.esp and HighResTexturePack02.esp in the skyrim launcher or in the Nexus Mod Manager, then edit your Skyrim.ini file in the Data folder. Find the “sResourceArchiveList=” entry under [Archive] and edit it to look like this:

sResourceArchiveList=Skyrim – Misc.bsa, Skyrim – Shaders.bsa, Skyrim – Textures.bsa, HighResTexturePack01.bsa, HighResTexturePack02.bsa, Skyrim – Interface.bsa, Skyrim – Animations.bsa, Skyrim – Meshes.bsa, Skyrim – Sounds.bsa

If you dont have Skyrim.ini in your data directory, copy Skyrim_default.ini in the data folder from the base Skyrim folder and rename it Skyrim.ini and edit it as described above.

It has to be said that the high resolution textures provided in that package are actually worse in quality that those coming with many mods, like Skyrim HD – 2K Textures for instance, and, for some reason (at least on my computer and despite the lower quality), the performance hit is greater. Personally I’ll continue to go with user-made textures. They look better anyway.

But, as every week, it’s time to let the mods do the talking, so without further ado, let’s see this week’s highlights.

Elisa Brea v1 NPC Redone

As I predicted long time ago one of the most popular that will come to Skyrim now that the Creation Kit is available are new companions. Elisa Brea by BravoOskar is one of the first.

The author provides several options to make her look pretty much like you want, and even a list of mods he used himself.  For the picture above I actually used Better Female by BellaGail, Coolsim’s Hair Pack by Newermind43 and High Quality Eyes by Xenius. Of course her appearance will change depending on what beautification mods you prefer to use. You can download her here.

Pretty Face Pack

Since I just added Elisa to my team, let’s use her as a model for this new beautification mod by Tktk. It does pretty much what it says on the tin, replacing the rather unappealing original faces with some that tend a lot more towards perfection, ideally similar to those you find in Japanese games.

As usual with this kind of mod, it won’t be for everyone, but I’m quite sure it will have an audience. You can download it here.

Blue Stripes Elite – Vernon Roche – Ves – THE WITCHER 2

I said in a past episode of this column that we’re going to see more and more armor imported from The Witcher 2 thanks to the blessing received from the cool people at CD Projekt RED. The implementation of the armor of Vernon Roche and Ves was pretty much inevitable. This mod by TH3WICK3D1 does exactly that, providing us with two absolutely fantastic armor sets that beat the default ones from Skyrim pretty radically.

Toy can download it here and as a personal note, the appeal of Ves’ armor is way superior than that of any super-skimpy/half-naked ones you can easily find on the Nexus. Simply fantastic.

Knights of the Nine Armor and Templar etc

This mod by Maty743 implements a semi-faithful reproduction of the Knights of the Nine armor from the Oblivion expansion with the same name. It also comes with a separate package that includes armor resembling that of Templars, Hospitaliers and Teutonic Knights of old and the relative shields. The files can be downloaded on the Nexus here or on Steam Workshop in two separate packs here and here.

theRoadstrokers Alvin Hews Annika Outfit Set

This extensive armor set includes several piece of clothing for ladies with a a nice rogue-ish feel. The outfit is inspired by the lovely art of Alvin Hew and is created by theRoadstroker. You can download it here and enjoy its refined models and textures, and a style that’s sorely missing in the original game.

Long Lost Smelters of Skyrim

The name of this mod by Hyralux is definitely and deservedly sarcastic. I can’t really fathom why Bethesda decided that so many forges around Skyrim shouldn’t have a smelter, with the result of turning the task of transforming ore to ingots into a complete chore.

The mod can be downloaded here and adds a smelter to Solitude, Riften, Riverwood, Morthal and Falkreath. Simple, but extremely useful.

Shrine of Azura LOD Fix

For some reason (probably related to performance) Bethesda didn’t make the Shrines to the Daedra princes visible from a distance. This can be rather Jarring, since a few of them are quite large landmarks that should be seen from very far away. The titanic statue of Azura is one of the most well known, and this mod by Bobbyx makes it visible from a long distance (even several miles away).

It may actually cause a small performance hit, since it’s an high detail model visible from a large area, but, if you have a powerful rig it’ll, definitely adds more flavor to your Skyrim vistas. You can download it here.

Armored Circlets by Quickfox

Circlets look rather great, especially on ladies and even more so if you use improved textures like those I introduced in Episode 9. The problem is that they offer absolutely no armor, and if you’re a light or heavy armor user, wearing a circlet with it makes you lose the bonus given by the matching set.

This mod by QuickFox introduces craftable light armor and heavy armor circlets.  With it you can pay your due to fashion, and still receive the balanced bonuses of wearing armor. You can download it here.

Whiterun Cave House

One of the most obvious things that will happen a lot with the introduction of the Creation Kit are new environments, and it’s very safe to assume that one of those will be new forms of player housing. This mod by Exorince can be considered the progenitors of the mansions and castles that we’ll most probably get in the future. It adds a small cave under a bridge in Whiterun in which you can squat for free, rest and store items until you can finally afford a real house.

It’s definitely a good solution to the terrible lack of storage that affects the game at the beginning of the adventures of the Dragonborn. It also looks rather lovely thanks to the glowing mushrooms and fireflies. You can download it here on the Nexus or here on Steam Workshop.

That’s it for this episode. I hope you found something useful to improve your game. As usual remember that full and exclusive credit for the mods listed above goes to their talented authors (and to CD Projekt RED for the mod based on The Witcher 2). Do come back next week on Thursday for more mods at the Skyrim Mod Forge. I can’t wait to see how fast the modding community will manage to use the full potential of the Creation Kit.

Read More Episodes of The Skyrim Mod ForgeEpisode Zero – Baby StepsEpisode 1 – Large Address, Steady Growth and LipsEpisode 2 – Mod Managing, Beauty and DragonsEpisode 3 – More Beauty, Divorce and Small DetailsEpisode 4 – Even More Beauty, Fashion and a Better HUDEpisode 5 – Hair, Flora and Weapons from MorrowindEpisode 6 – Handsome Men, More Hair and Armor From The Witcher 2Episode 7 – Swords, Ice, Spells, Fashion and Realistic LightThe Skyrim Mod Forge – Episode 8 – Cats, Shouts, Hideouts and Swords from LOTREpisode 9 – Armor, Soul Gems and More Swords from LOTREpisode 10 – Rainbow Colors, Weapons, Armor and Witcher GearEpisode 12 – Houses, Lovely Hairstyles and Riding Like a BossEpisode 13 – Lovely Hair, Armor from The Witcher 2 and Hundreds of Books.

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Giuseppe Nelva

Hailing from sunny (not as much as people think) Italy and long standing gamer since the age of Mattel Intellivision and Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Definitely a multi-platform gamer, he still holds the old dear PC nearest to his heart, while not disregarding any console on the market. RPGs (of any nationality) and MMORPGs are his daily bread, but he enjoys almost every other genre, prominently racing simulators, action and sandbox games. He is also one of the few surviving fans of the flight simulator genre on Earth.

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